He added that growing up with two parents who smoked, and as a smoker once himself, "I know how addictive it can be."
Republican Mike Enzi of Wyoming likewise touched on his family's personal struggle with smoking, calling tobacco "the only consumer product which, when used as directed, kills its customers."
The effort, spearheaded by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., in the Senate and California Democrat Henry Waxman in the House, gives the FDA the power to decide how cigarettes are advertised and authority to monitor how they're promoted to youth. It does not have the power to ban cigarettes and nicotine outright.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 440,000 people die prematurely from smoking each year, with an estimated 49,000 of those deaths due to secondhand smoke exposure.
"This legislation provides a tremendous opportunity to finally hold tobacco companies accountable and restrict efforts to addict more children and adults," American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement. "It has been a long and challenging process to move the bill through Congress but the determination of many concerned parents and supporters has never wavered."
ABC News' Dean Norland contributed to this report.